CCJS4361 Drugs and Behavior

Course Description

Pharmacologic basis of psychotropic drugs and their associated abuses. Theories of cause and treatment of abusers are reviewed.

How drugs work and how drugs influence behavior is a huge field of study that we are interested in. We are also very interested in the process of problem solving per se, and particularly how one can try to solve a variety of social problems that seems to surround drug use and misuse.

We know that you will bring a great deal of experience to our mutual inquiry. That experience will be a valuable asset to you as you progress through the course. The experience of others in the class, your classmates, will also be valuable to you. We hope that you will find the course one that is challenging and relevant and that it will provide you with insights how drugs work and their effects upon individual behavior.

This course is designed to familiarize you with some of the most common recreational drugs, their use and misuse in today’s society, and laws proscribing their use. Learning how each drug influences behavior and why people use drugs will help us better understand the society in which we live. During the semester, you will become familiar with the terminology, learn of the vast number of complexities and issues surrounding drug use, and discover numerous credible resources, such as peer-reviewed academic journal articles, that will benefit you in your present or future career.

Although this course is not what we would label a writing intensive course, there is writing—three short papers, one in each of Weeks 2, 4, and 6. This course has been developed to facilitate active discovery and exploration of information resources pertaining to research on drugs. There are no organized class sessions to attend. The course uses a combination of independent study of textbook information and Web-based exploration of information on the Internet and in virtual libraries. Based on your required readings and Web exercises, you should gain a deeper understanding of the use and misuse of drugs, and where to go to find the most up-to-date credible information about drugs. 

This course is cross-listed with PSYC 4305 and SOCI4305.

Course Credits: 3

Prerequisites: Prerequisites for this course are: completion of an Introduction to Psychology course; plus junior or senior level standing; and completion of The University's general education requirements. Exceptions will be made if the student has completed two of the general-education basic English composition courses and one literature course, and comes prepared and willing to write. 

This course is, in part, a writing-research course, and the student must come prepared to use the library (internet data bases and standard hard-copy journals), write grammatical sentences, and use proper citation format using the American Psychological Association style (APA style). Some student end-course evaluations regarding grammar and APA style are below in italics. Generally, 99% of students' comments are positive. We bring these to your attention just so you know what you will be getting into.

“Why is your team of instructors so picky about writing?” Because we hear comments like: "All I want to do is become a Border Patrol Officer!"; As an English major, why would we have to learn APA style?"; "APA style should not be stressed as much as it was"; "I feel as long as the author is given credit for their work, any style would be okay". 

Now, we believe that any position a student applies for, or presently holds, has writing as part of the position. Examples would be writing reports, writing proposals, and so forth. If one concentrates on writing grammatically, one will be perceived as being more credible. We are here to encourage you follow the rules of grammar and spelling, to provide citations in a common format (APA style), and, in general, be more conscientious. It's your "credibility" we’re talking about. If you write slap-dash and sloppy, that's how people reading your writing may perceive you---as "careless". Credibility---your credibility---is very important to your instructors here, and to your colleagues, peers, and supervisors. 

Student Learning Outcomes

  • To describe the direct effects of drugs in one's body, such as the internal physiological/pharmacological effects.
  • To describe the indirect effects of drugs, such as their effects on cognitive processes, personality, family, and society (i.e., driving fatalities, crime, prenatal effects, and long-term care, etc.).
  • To demonstrate your access to, and familiarity with, the internet library data bases for new and evolving research and information regarding drugs and drug treatment in peer-reviewed academic journals.
  • To verbally and critically interpret the lay, internet, and 'expert' findings regarding this or that drug, drug treatment, or treatment regimens.
  • To demonstrate a broader perspective of the complexity of the problems and issues involved in the quest for objectivity and balance in dealing with drug misuse, dependence, and treatment.
  • To be able to find full-text academic journal articles in the virtual library on topics related to drug research and treatment.
  • To demonstrate, in writing, knowledge of American Psychological Association documentation style in research papers.